Cheltenham ante-post betting picks: Weekend evaluate 18-19 December
A round-up of the newest Cheltenham Festival ante-post odds after some standout performances within the weekend meetings at Navan and Ascot
There was an exhilarating final weekend of racing before Christmas with Saturday’s Ascot card delivering spectacular action and a return to successful methods for Nicky Henderson’s Champ.
Every Monday from now till March we will be looking at attainable angles for the Cheltenham Festival and assessing the seasonal progress of a number of the main contenders.
Champ actually raised some questions for his connections at the weekend and his victory within the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot might lead to a change of course in his profession.
Cheltenham ante-post betting picks
Odds appropriate at time of publishing and may be topic to alter.
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A ‘high-class’ downside for JP
Owner JP McManus admitted after Saturday’s win for CHAMP within the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot that he now has a ‘high-class problem’ to cope with – whether or not or to not go after the Stayers’ Hurdle in March or refocus on the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Champ was pulled up in the Blue Riband in March, solely his second run final season. A again downside was confirmed afterwards and he was given time and treatment to recuperate over the summer season.
Connections perhaps had been unsure what to expect, so trainer Nicky Henderson settled on the thought of returning within the Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle having mentioned a race was exhausting to find over fences.
Although he has won three of his six begins over fences, Champ has by no means completely satisfied at the larger obstacles. His Cheltenham Festival win within the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase in March 2020, when he rallied to claim Minella Indo within the dying embers, was a minor miracle because of the ground he needed to make up after the leaping was completed. Likewise his jumping fully went to pieces within the Gold Cup last time making certain he was pulled up earlier than midway.
On Saturday, against this, he hurdled fast and fluently and seemed a natural back over the smaller obstacles for the primary time since 2019. He cruised into competition and, just when it appeared as though Thyme Hill was going to battle previous him, he found another gear and ultimately won in convincing style. He is bound to enhance for that outing too.
He is unbeaten in three-mile hurdles – the Stayers’ distance – and whereas the Gold Cup is a temptation, Henderson could also be favouring the former Festival prize given Friday’s information that ante-post favourite Buzz is about for a spell on the sidelines. The method of Saturday’s display suggests Champ won’t be 9/2 on the day if he strains up for the Stayers’ Hurdle in March.
Jonbon confirms star credentials
It was a giant weekend for the McManus-Henderson axis. Prior to Champ’s success on Saturday, the much-heralded JONBON had lived as a lot as the hype about him with his Grade 2 win at Ascot on Friday.
A brother to Douvan, Jonbon was a £570,000 buy for McManus after profitable his point-to-point final 12 months and he has now gained all three starts underneath guidelines.
Last month’s Newbury maiden win was nothing out of the ordinary however there was actual substance to this success. He dismissed some useful opposition with disdain and seemed a extremely promising novice in doing so.
After Henderson’s Constitution Hill gained so impressively at Sandown just lately, many felt Jonbon had inquiries to answer, so this was a definitive success in that regard. He now looks the one to beat within the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, the Cheltenham Festival curtain-raiser.
American on track for Cotswolds success
AMERICAN MIKE assumed favouritism for the Champion Bumper in no unsure terms after his latest win in Ireland on Saturday.
Gordon Elliott’s four-year-old justified odds-on favouritism on his debut at Down Royal in October and there was an much more spectacular demolition at Navan on Saturday.
Under Jamie Codd, he cruised residence 17 lengths clear of the sector and is now 11/4 to be Champion Bumper winner in March. Elliott has saddled two of the previous five winners and each winner since Ballyandy in 2016 has been skilled in Ireland. It shall be hard to oppose American Mike now.
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